Malcolm Rifkind

Essay writing

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Writing an Essay for International Exams

Today we are going to look again at one of your comments, this time about writing. Oumaima (I hope I said that right) Oumaima says: You’re amazing sir!  Please can you help me by telling me what are the steps to follow for writing an essay or short paragraph.

And what is the best way to improve my English more and more. Well thank you very much for your very kind words. When it comes to writing essays for international exams, there are two important things that you need to remember. Read the question and plan your answer. In my experience for international exams like CAE, CPE, IELTS and TOEFL, there’s normally 3 or 4 points that are mentioned in the questions that you must refer to in your answer. These carry a lot of weight in the grading because they show that you have understood the task. And it’s always important to plan you writing,

That’s true in any language. Make sure that each paragraph has a theme and that you don’t jump around. Give your work an overall structure with a beginning and middle and an end. Well I hope that is helpful for the writing. For the second part of your question, the best way to improve more and more Is to keep practicing and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes so the more you make the more you learn. Thanks for the question Oumaima, and everyone; What kind of writing do you get asked to do? How do you find it? Let me know in the comments below.

Academic Writing Tips : How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Today we’re going to talk about how to write a persuasive essay. All good essays in my opinion are persuasive. All strong essays will have a very passionate opinion about what they are being written about. So, essentially all essays should be persuasive in some way. But to actually be a persuasive essay that is in quotes, you actually have to be very up front about your position on the particular topic you’re writing about. So what you should do is therefore take everything, all the reasons to agree with your position and write them all down. And then take all the reasons to disagree with your position and write them down as well. And systematically go through and figure out why your position is better than the other position. In a persuasive essay, you actually want to be honest, I hope, about what you’re writing about and about what you’re trying to persuade the reader to believe. So you should actually really check yourself and make sure that you don’t mention anything that you might have questions about in your mind as you’re writing this essay. So, go ahead and pick out the best arguments that you could present. But also give integrity to the opposing side. Let people know that yes, you understand how people could think in a different way but you yourself know that’s the wrong way. So you want to persuade the reader to essentially come over to your side. And like I said before, I think all good strong essays are persuasive in some way. If I get to the end of an essay and I haven’t been persuaded of at least something, I pretty much wasted my time. So think about that as you write any kind of paper.

Narrative Writing Plan

Directions: Answer the questions below from “Proust’s Questionnaire” to help you begin thinking about a potential topic to write your narrative about.
Proust’s Questionnaire:
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
2. What is your greatest fear?
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
5. Which living person do you most admire?
6. What is your current state of mind?
7. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
8. Which living person do you most despise?
9. When and where were you happiest?
10. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
11. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
12. Where would you most like to live?
13. What is your most treasured possession?
14. What is your favorite occupation?
15. What is your greatest regret?
16. What is your motto?

Narrative Writing Brainstorming

Directions: Read the narrative writing prompt and in each section write down as much information as you can about your topic. Remember you are brainstorming… so the more details the better!
Prompt :
Background Information
• When did the event happen?
• How old were you?
• Where did event take place?
The Story
• What happened? How did it happen?
• What were your reactions/feeling at the time?
• Why is this story important to you?

The Impact (Then)
• What was the impact when it
• How did you feel?
• What were your thoughts

The Impact (Now)
• What is the impact on you now?
• How do you feel now?
• What are your thoughts?
• Looking back are you glad you
experienced this?

The Point: Why is this topic important?
•What do you want the reader to know about you from your essay?
•How would you be different if this had not happened to you?
•What lesson(s) did you learn after this experience?
•How will you continue use what you have learned in the future?


Personal Narrative Tone

The tone is probably the most overlooked element of writing a Personal Narrative. Yet the tone is what will make your story interesting, believable, and readable. You should sound like you’re having a conversation with your audience. This natural tone is what makes your story stand out based on the emotions you want to elicit in the reader. If your story is about something unexpected happening, you want to create a feeling of suspense. If you’re writing a scary story, choose words and a tone that creates some fear.

Make sure your tone matches the story. To decide which tone is appropriate, ask yourself why you’re writing this story and who your audience will be.

Think of tone as the main feeling you want to develop in your audience.

When writing, use your own voice so that you sound like ‘somebody’. Don’t worry about sounding proper and polite if that isn’t how you sound. On the other hand, trying to sound tough, edgy, and angry can just come across as annoying and overdone. Let your writing reflect who you are and how you sound.

Set the tone by describing a character’s mood or emotions without stating them outright. Read this example from the chapter ‘Becoming Tough’ in the book Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

      There, my sisters arranged a fight that was one of those ‘my little brother is tougher than your brother’ fights. A crowd of kids brought the other young kid and me to a phone booth on the street corner and put us both inside the booth so we couldn’t run away. In my mind, I can still see all those faces pressed up against the glass of the phone booth yelling and encouraging us to keep fighting.

The writer puts you inside the phone booth where you are surrounded by a throng of strangers and no way out. You can feel the boy’s fear and know that there’s no choice but to fight back.

Getting Started With the First Sentence of Your Personal Narrative

Getting started is the hardest part for most people. Here are two simple, proven ways to write that first sentence. Once you have that written, refer to your graphic organizer or timeline to keep the flow of words going.

  1. Your first sentence can describe the setting using sensory words.

Example from the chapter ‘Mean Streets’ from Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

The day was hot and humid, one of those days when you can smell the tar from the road as it bakes in the sun.

Write an introductory sentence using sensory words to describe your classroom as the setting for a story.



  1. As an alternative, your first sentence can tell about an important character.

         Example from the chapter ‘Matthew’ in the book Under the Influence.

        Having been arrested 42 times, charged with multiple felonies, served four different sentences in the state penitentiary, suffered five broken hands from street fights, stabbed, outran the law in high-speed chases numerous times, and a long time friend of mine since we were young, Matt is a unique individual.

Write an introductory sentence for a story by describing something important about a friend.


Writing a Good Ending for a Personal Narrative

                     A good ending for a personal narrative tells the outcome and is reflective.

Your outcome should indicate why the story was important to you or why it was interesting.

  From the chapter ‘Dark Times’ in Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

During this dark time, I reached a point where I just didn’t care what happened, and when you deal with someone who doesn’t care, you’re dealing with trouble.

This leaves the reader thinking about why it’s important to know when you’re dealing with someone who has reached his or her limit and doesn’t care anymore.

Your outcome should also indicate whether you or others learned something from the experience. This doesn’t always happen in a personal narrative, but it’s very common.

From the chapter ‘Building Bombs and Lessons From Big Jim’:

But then Easter came and Big Jim told them not to expect any Easter eggs or candy because he had shot and killed the Easter Bunny during hunting season. With the lessons we learned from role models like Big Jim, it’s not surprising that we built bombs and got into all kinds of trouble.

In the example above, the lesson is stated outright.

From the chapter ‘Bloody Halls’:

           If you didn’t have a lock they would pee all over your books and your jacket.   Junior high was a rough time for me, but as with all things in my life, I learned to deal with it as it was nothing compared to my home life.

This example is more subtle. The reader can draw the conclusion that the narrator did learn something: how to deal with the things that went on in junior high as well as all other things in life.



Using Dialogue in a Personal Narrative

The key to dialogue is to find a happy medium. Don’t use too much dialogue or too little. Dialogue helps the reader learn about the personalities of the characters in the story.

          How do you know where to add dialogue to the story?

Use dialogue to:

* tell someone else in the story what you did.

* tell what you said.

* tell someone else in the story what another person did.

* tell what someone said.

Example from the chapter ‘Trauma’ in Under the Influence by Phil Hamman, in which there is a balance of dialogue.

    “What’s going on? Who’s bleeding?” I yelled.

     But my question was lost in the air as they continued yelling at each other. I followed the blood trail which grew in volume as I approached the bathroom.

This has more impact than writing this:

     I didn’t what was going on or who was bleeding. They continued yelling at each other. I followed the blood trail which grew in volume as I approached the bathroom.

Let your personality come through by what you say and how you say it. Don’t worry about saying the ‘right’ thing or always using correct grammar in your dialogue unless that’s the way it was really spoken.

Example from the chapter ‘Bullies and the Bus From Hell’:

The Maggot had beady eyes that were set too close together, discolored teeth, and an odd body odor. I feared him as much as anyone, but on that day the name just slipped out.

       “Oh, you think you’re tough enough to call me Maggot, huh? I’ll tell you what: I’m not getting off at my bus stop. I’m getting off at yours!” was his response.

The example above is an effective use of dialogue because only the part that was actually spoken is used. It’s a better way of showing The Maggot’s personality than to write:

 The Maggot had beady eyes that were set too close together, discolored teeth, and an odd body odor. I feared him as much as anyone, but on that day the name just slipped out. The Maggot got mad when I called him this and told me that he was going to wait and get off at my bus instead of getting off at his own bus stop.

Choosing a Topic for Your Personal Narrative

To choose a topic for your Personal Narrative, think of an event to tell about and your feelings about what happened.

If an event is interesting to you, it will usually appeal to others. Think of your audience and their interests.

The following topics are from the chapter ‘The Skull and Big Toe Incidents’ from the book Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

Dysfunctional event –The day my friend’s dad got fired for bringing a skull home from work.

Unusual event – The day my friend’s brother got his toe cut off.

Brainstorm some stories from your life that could fit into the following categories:

Funny __________________________________________________________________

Sad _____________________________________________________________________

Exciting _________________________________________________________________

Unusual _________________________________________________________________

Scary ___________________________________________________________________

Dysfunctional ____________________________________________________________


‘Show Don’t Tell’ in a Personal Narrative

Avoid telling the reader what he or she is supposed to think or feel. Instead, let the reader experience the event with the sensory words you provide. Let the reader hear, smell, see, taste, and feel what is happening in your story.  It’s more interesting for your reader to draw conclusions about the story.

One way you can do this is by eliminating the overuse of “to be” verbs, you’ll force yourself to pull in sensory words in their place. What is a “to be” verb?

“To be or not to be, that is the question…” Hamlet

The past tense forms of ‘to be’ are some of the most irregular in the English language. Let’s just worry about avoiding the past tense forms of ‘to be’ when writing a personal narrative since your story will take place in the past. As a reminder, here’s a list:

I was                    We were

You were            They were

He/She/It was

Try an example:

I was walking down the street to my friend’s house. I saw a dog and it was trying to get loose.

What happens if you take out “I was” and ‘it was’ and replace them?

Read the following example from the chapter ‘Firearms and Dogs’ from the book Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

      While walking down the street, I could see Shane staked on a chain. When he saw me he leaped to his feet and strained against his chain, jerking and snarling in an effort to get loose. Suddenly, the stake pulled loose from the ground, and he tore down the street after me.

Below, rewrite the sentence ‘I was walking down the street to my friend’s house,’ this time using a sound that could be heard on the way:







What is a Personal Narrative?

Graphic Organizer for a Personal Narrative

Think of an experience you’ve had that is unusual or interesting. As an alternative, think of a common experience that changed you in some way.  Tell the story from your perspective

Write your first sentence here by describing the main character from your story or the setting:______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________+.

Details in Order:
Main Event:





Sensory Words:

(Which details can you describe? Write them below along with a list of possible sensory words)


Sensory words_________________________________

2. Event

Strong ending (Reflect on why the story is important or what you learned from it.):

What is a Personal Narrative?

The purpose of a personal narrative is to write about one specific event in your life.


 Personal – about oneself

 Narrative – tell a story

It is told in the first person (use I, me, my, we, etc.) So, you are telling what happened from your point of view.  Using the word I invites the reader into the story.

Focus on only one, specific event in your life.


 We have a family reunion every year. This is too broad. Make it more specific.

The following example is from the chapter ‘Redneck Reunions’ from Under the Influence by Phil Hamman.

At one of our family reunions, my cousin Curly got lost in the junkyard when we were playing hide-and-seek.  All the kids were playing hide-and-seek, and by the time we went inside for dinner, Curly still hadn’t been found.

Here’s another example of a topic that is too broad:

 My friend is really nice.

Make the following topic more specific by telling a specific story about your friend being nice:



The story is told in chronological order, so use transition words to help the flow of the story.  Here’s a partial list:

first                                next                           then                                 later

one morning            tomorrow                     now                           the following day

after a while               earlier                      eventually                    before long

first of all                  as soon as                     finally                           after  that

Key aspects of internet business

Nowadays in the age of e-commerce, starting an internet business and become an entrepreneur has become easier like never before. The people and merchants are opening various kinds of services shops, agency, freelance teams and online e-commerce stores to start their businesses. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind for the proper functioning and growth of your business. By the way, it essay was written by essay help service.

Estimate the Demand or create a bit

    1. The leadership of the company estimates the overall need and requirement in the market related to your product. If you have a unique concept and a product, you should create a demand for it through advertisements, referral programs, freebies, word of mouth gossip or joint ventures. Without demand no one will buy your product. So keep this in mind if you want to grow your internet business.

Keep it simple while ordering

    1. The visitors to your site are your potential customers, so it is necessary that you have a smooth functioning site with simple ordering facility. This hassle free approach is necessary to not bore out the customer and convert the interests in to profits for your internet business.

Payment options

    1. So after the ordering process is done with, you must have instant payment options available for your customers wherein they can pay with the popular payment gateways. The popular payment gateways are VISA/MASTERCARD credit or debit cards, moneybookers, paypal, alertpay, Bank transfer etc. The more options you provide, the more is the possibility of receiving orders from different geographical locations.

Packaging and delivery

    1. After the payment is done, you don’t just relax as the work is just half done. As a reliable internet business, it is your duty to see that the payment you take for meets all the delivery of the products to the customers. This can be difficult to manage on your own so at least one dedicated department or an assistant should look over this job. One should also try to make partnerships with different courier and delivery services to build reliable link and get discounts.

Service and Support, customer care

                   Once the sale of the product has been completed, you should also provide a money back guarantee for a                         small limited period of time. Apart from that if it is your own product then you should also provide the                           customer with after sales services and support. This enables the entrepreneurship to win over the hearts                         of your customer and keep them loyal toward your organization. This is a very important step of internet                       business strategies. You can also choose to outsource the services department if you wish so.


  1. The management must also make sure that the transactions made on your e-commerce store are 100% secure. One thing to do about this is get an https by registering for a validity security certificate. Your website builder can help you do that. One other thing related to payment secure is getting the VISA and MasterCard security approval badges like Verified by VISA. This helps the customer build trust on your site and helps you to get more sales which ultimately results in the growth of your internet business.

Studying Methods in Britain and EU

Studying is the main part of college life. However, it has many differences among all countries. Today, we will review education systems in Britain and EU: learning methods, tips and hacks.


Let us take a look at these three effective learning methods

The Outlining Method

The outlining method is the technique that is most commonly used by students. As its name denotes, it would require creating an outline so that the facts that have been presented in the lecture will be jotted down in your notes in an organized manner. To do the outlining method, have the major topics written on the far left of your notebook page. As specific points are raised, jot them down in your notebook in order of importance a little bit to the right and label them as “A”, “B”, “C’, etc. If there are sub-points made, note them down under the specific topic and label them as “1″, “2″, “3″, etc. Additional points under the numbered sub-topics will be labeled as “a”, “b”, “c”, etc. You can also find a good college essay example, realize its structure and create something yours. If you proceed in this manner, you will have well-organized notes with the facts clearly delineated. You can even create useful mnemonics with this method once the facts are clear to you.

The Cornell Method

Many education experts advocate the use of the Cornell Method for note-taking. It will give the student comprehensive, precise and organized notes without the need of constant rewriting. To do the Cornell method, draw a 2 1/2-inch margin on the left side of your notebook so that you will have a larger space on the right side. While listening to a lecture, jot down the notes in the large space. If your professor emphasized some facts, put a cue in the loft space. If your professor moves to another topic, leave some extra spaces after the notes you have made or you can start on a new page. At the end of the lecture, you will find that you have precise notes with cues on vital points. The extra space is for you jot down additional information on the subject matter that you have read in your textbook or other resources. To review your notes, cover the right side of your notebook page and recall what you have learned with the use of the cues on the left side.

The Mapping Method

The Mapping Method is more of a graphical style of jotting down notes. Here, you use charts and diagrams to help you visualize the important points raised in the lecture. Although a bit more complicated than the Outlining and Cornell Methods, the Mapping Method is more effective because you can them in speedy lectures and it does not require you to think too much.

Studying in the groups

Pros of Studying In A Group:

  • You’re forced to interact and provide answers which is a great way to be productive.
  • There’s a sense of positive criticism which is beneficial in learning.
  • People of the group can keep a check on each other to make sure everyone is on par with their work.
  • Group tests can motivate you to get the best result possible to avoid feeling embarrassed with a low mark.
  • People can point out things in your notes that you may have missed.
  • It’s empowering.

Cons of Studying In A Group:

  • It can quickly turn into a social event, you know it’s true.
  • Some members may be disruptive.
  • Others may try to sponge off your work for their own benefit – highly distracting.
  • If there is no central person to control the flow of communication, it could turn into a zoo, it’s possible.
  • You may not learn much at all.

It’s also about whether you as an individual work better alone or with people around. If sounds and speaking disrupt your train of thought, group studying may not be a wise option, especially for an exam that’s coming up.

If you are in a group, try to have someone strict to be in the center to direct the flow of questions and answers. Devise a plan as to what everyone will have to focus on each session, no use in 5 people all studying 5 different parts of a book, it will be chaotic and unprogressive.
Choose members wisely. This may be tough but you may have to say No to people who want to join but are extremely rowdy and just in it for the attention. Your exams and studies are your biggest priority right now, there’s no time for messing around.

Tips for UK and EU Students

What’s the Perfect Study Room

First of all, you commonly hear the advice that you should just study in the same study place. However, in studies conducted by cognitive scientists, it has been found that you have a better retentive quality of your study in alternating places.  If you change the places where you study, the greater would be your memory retention.

Tools of Aid

Next, while studying, make use of flashcards. The more you write down notes and definitions, the easier it would be for you to memorize and remember them. The use of flash cards will also enable you to come up with useful mnemonics and associative phrases that will make recall more convenient.

Many students make the mistake of categorizing themselves. Some would say they are visual learners while others say they learn easily by ear. Others would say they are left brained or right brained. Rather than fix yourself in a learning category, determine instead what study strategies are best for you.

A Subject Every Hour

Don’t just focus yourself on one subject alone for hours on end. It is better that you study each subject for one hour at a time, taking ten-minute breaks in between.

Discover great study resources on campus.

Study Groups

Perhaps one of the best study resources is a homework group with your peers. Studies have shown that studying with your peers will not only help you to reduce your study load, it will also allow for greater comprehension of the subject material. Just make sure that you and your peers are indeed studying, instead of just playing around and talking about boys/girls.

You and your homework group should also take advantage of the resources that your school has to offer. Ask your professors if they can tutor you on difficult subjects. Visit the library and check out the books and computer files. Having difficulty with that chemistry project? Ask permission from your professor to use the lab.

One very important tip that you should not forget is to try to keep yourself healthy. Eat a healthy diet that is conducive to the brain, such as fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of sweets and junk foods. To keep you always on the alert, make sure that you exercise regularly. Last but not least, get enough sleep at night. Have a fixed sleep time. Doing all nighters will only make a tire out your brain.